Are cyclists athletes? Can bicycles reconnect people to nature? Somehow, I’d say that both is true. Riding a bicycle along the Inn River Cycle Path, one is exposed and alert to the scenic surroundings. With eyes and ears on the ground, cyclists feel a greater sense of place and a stronger connection to the countryside—and they have many a story to tell.
Kate, Vicky and Mike
The three fellow travellers spend a weeklong vacation in Tirol’s Oberland Region, somewhere at the gateway to Ötztal Valley. Nowhere else in the world you can find such a perfect combination of mountain biking and thrilling outdoor activities, they say. Area47 is one of the Inn River’s best waves and a favorite spot for chilly surf sessions. Water conditions matter when it comes to river surfing. As with rafting, spring runoff season is often the best time of year for the sport. A few kilometers upstream is where you will find a beach called Hawaii.
Missy, Lisa and Elena
Twice a week, the B171 Federal Road lures the three girls to its miles of scenic roadways. To them, cycling is a perfect escape from the daily grind, it gives them something positive to look forward to at the end of the day. It’s the unique combination of being outside, exercising, feeling the wind on their face. Today, they swing a leg over the saddle and bomb along scenic roads lightly traveled by traffic from Innsbruck to Telfs. Trio cycling is more fun and also less tiresome than pedalling alone, as they can avoid headwinds by cycling in the slipstream of each other’s back wheel.
From Telfs, they are seeking a heart-pumping ride, with a challenging 20-minute climb to the upland plateau of Seefeld. Up there, they gather new strength over Latella forte in the vibrant, pedestrianized main street of Seefeld before dropping down into Innsbruck.
In Haiming, I had a short chat with Alois. He didn’t have much time as he was busy picking sweet cherries from the top of a ladder. For 15 years he has been making a living from fruit growing. The environs of Haiming brim with orchards sprouting the signature “Oberland Apples”. In late summer, tree branches hang heavy with the shiny fruit. Cool nights and sunny days make local crops, such as apples, squash and pumpkins, damson plums and potatoes, fresh and full of flavour.
Ulli, Dumplings and River Rafting Boats
It’s time for a break and we opt for “Rafting Alm” Inn, conveniently located right next to an “official” river rafting exit point. The scenic stretch of the beautiful Imst Gorge between the small towns of Imst and Haiming is one of Europe’s most popular spots for white water rafting. Rafting boats land here every ten minutes, spitting out 8 to 10 passengers plus guide. Getting to see the expressions on their faces — sometimes the fear, sometimes the relief it’s over, but most often the joy and the endorphins — is the best.
The beer garden is filled with rustic tables where cyclists, climbers, rafters and spectators refuel over hearty delicacies. It makes a wonderful place to stop as it is always at the heart of the action. I ask waitress Ulli whether she has moved from Upper Austria to Tirol for love. While serving us dumplings, she replies that I’m totally wrong. First, she was born in the Austrian Province of Salzburg, and second she simply likes it here. It’s a great place to live at all times of the year, there is always something going on, recreational opportunities abound and the people are friendly, she continues, laughing. Well, Ulli, welcome to Tirol.
Inn River Cycle Path Stories
River stories are like fishing stories; someone can always tell a bigger and better story. This is a series of short stories set along the Tirol section of the Inn River Cycle Path. (To be continued. Photo Credits © ck)